Josey Rose Duncan

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New year, new you.

The cynical, raised-by-New Yorkers part of me wants to throw all the shade on all this New Year’s rebirth; on resolutions, on proclamations to workout/eat healthier/create more/love more/be more open to new ideas; on optimistic decrees of total transformation tied to turning, once more, around the sun; turning our calendars (metaphoric and literal) to a new page—an arbitrary page of an arbitrary, Gregorian calendar.

The hippie, Northern California-bred me thinks that’s because we should be always evolving and growing, always loving and creating and moving our bodies and stretching our minds. That maybe we should all follow the moon more.

But maybe no matter how arbitrary the calendar, there’s something to this collective reflection, dream-wielding, goal-setting. Maybe there’s power in people and numbers. Maybe more accountability.

New year, new you, new me.

New outlook. New goals. New recurring sleep-time dreams to analyze because they mirror the new, recurring conscious-brain waking dreams that reflect new goals and a shiny, bright outlook on everything new that’s coming my way.

New rad clients. New chances to creatively collaborate. New exciting bylines and projects on the horizon. (More news about that later).

New beautiful and mobile-optimized website (thanks to Stephanie Gardner designs). Because we are always on our phones and some of the time when we’re on our phones I want us to be looking at—and reading blog posts published on—my new, beautiful website. Because we’re all always evolving and I am also evolving—as a sentient being, as a writer, as the founder and president and proprietor and sole employee of my freelancing enterprise that maybe next year I’ll term empire—and our online presence is just another piece of our evolving-sentient-being-ness and this website is the first thing that comes up when you search for me.

New morning routine (lemon water, meditation, memoir writing. And the gym—because I like to move and stretch while I listen to Savage Lovecast and This American Life—even though maybe that one doesn’t sound as enlightened as the others). Because whenever someone successful tells their secrets it’s always about meditation and lemon water and rising at dawn to do handstands on mountaintops. And not checking your email right away, or maybe just scanning for important messages but not replying right away. And writing three pages long-hand without reading any of it back for three weeks. And swimming in the coldest and deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean without a wetsuit, or wearing a wetsuit that resembles a seal’s skin, on the back of Great White sharks who’s gnashing teeth grin for you, alone, because of the lemon water you drink every morning on the tops of mountains posed in a one-handed handstand. Or something.

Renewed motivation to finish my memoir—and get it published for you to read. Which should happen now that I’m drinking lemon water every morning. Which should happen now that I have another year’s distance from the subject matter (so to speak), a year of mourning, of morning routines (however fledgling they’ve been before). A year of deepening so many friendships and letting a few fade; of my brother moving back to the U.S. from Russia after seven years; of brighter colors and bared souls as I strive to live, even more, in each settled moment. Of sadness: Watching a family friend I call uncle suffer a stroke and fall into a coma, of the wait-and-see of it all, as he lies, slowly recovering but still unconscious, in his hospital bed. Of trips to Austin, Texas, and to Symbiosis Gathering; to Portland, Oregon to officiate a college friend’s wedding in the city where we went to college. A year of many Megabus rides to Los Angeles and Sacramento spent staring out the second-deck window of the double-decked bus listening to whatever three songs on repeat sound the most like the sounds the synapses in the most wrinkled crevices of my brain make when they talk to each other. I really think you’ll like what I’m writing. I really think you’ll read it soon, too. New you, new me. New year.

Happy 2016. What do you resolve to do new?

—Josey Rose Duncan

Morning routine

green smoothie

I drink a green smoothie for breakfast almost every morning. My second-brain appreciates its first food of the day in this form, and I’m also like, really into healthy eating trends.

I always blend a banana and plenty of kale, but other ingredients depend on what I’ve got in my kitchen. Frozen mango is another go-to. Sometimes I use coconut water instead of almond milk (note: helps with a hangover), sometimes peanut or almond butter instead of sunflower. When I feel like an extra helping of probiotics I toss in a couple spoonfuls of Greek yogurt. If I’m feeling extra crazy, I add a chopped date or two.

This breakfast is my morning ritual, the (cold, delicious) activity that tells my brain it’s time to wake up, for real.

For the first time in my life, I (almost) always work from home. Sometimes my hours are strange. I’m a natural night-owl. But I crave sunshine, the peace of chilly streets at dawn.

I started my current freelance business 10 months ago. After an uncomfortable year, being in my apartment most of the time was, at first, exactly what I needed. But then I realized I hadn’t left my apartment in like, three days. Ok, four. There’s only so many errands I can concoct to force myself from self-imposed seclusion. That I’m trying to use freetime to do my own writing projects doesn’t help.

So I signed up for yoga—and I’m gonna go like, all the time. Like five days a week all the time.

Haters (you know who you are—jk jk, kinda) point out that while yoga will make me “feel great,” it isn’t a “real” workout. But I’m not sure I agree—and also, that’s not really my purpose.

For a half-Jewish white lady from a small hippie town who now lives in San Francisco, drinks a kale smoothie every morning, and washes my face with coconut oil (antibacterial, hellllloooo) I’ve taken surprisingly few yoga classes. (Although I have written before about yoga.)

I’m no natural athlete—far, far, from it—but I used to hit the gym every morning, waking in the dark to complain about being tired, (assistedly) dip, squat, lift, and ellipt. I also endured a brief running phase where I jogged along the water every evening after work.

My goal during my gym rat days was to look thin and toned; today, it’s to feel strong (Also I want to learn how to handstand so I can take handstand-selfies in front of epic nature scenes.)

I predict/hope my new yoga-centric morning routine will help me become a better writer, a better freelancer—maybe even a better person overall?—but I’ll let you all be the judge of that.

What’s your morning routine? Has it changed through the years?

My green smoothie recipe:

One frozen banana (broken into small pieces)

Several handfuls chopped kale (also frozen)

Tablespoon chia seeds

Heaping spoonful sunflower butter

Organic almond milk (enough)


—Josey Rose Duncan